Music

Syracuse-based rock group Ra Ra Riot's latest album, Beta Love, is steeped heavily in science fiction and futurist theories, with tales of robots, lives stranded in space and, on the song "Binary Mind," the merging of computers and human brains. In a new video for the track, the band members' disembodied heads playfully float and bob in a kaleidoscopic, digital landscape.

John Darnielle was a little lonely when he wrote the songs on All Hail West Texas, the 2002 album that became a highlight of his music career. His band, The Mountain Goats, is a trio now, but back then it was a one-man show. Darnielle would come home from the long, dragging hours of his healthcare job, alone in his house while his wife was away at hockey camp. He'd sit down on his couch with his guitar, cobble together some words and music, and hit record on his Panasonic boombox.

Jim Guthrie: Tiny Desk Concert

Aug 10, 2013

We've had bands from all over the world visit the Tiny Desk. Most recently, we published a set by Keaton Henson, who was in from London. Back in May, we had singer M.R. Shajarian from Iran.

After working together for more than a decade, the members of Stockholm's Shout Out Louds continue to make lush, highly melodic pop music. The product of a year and a half of tinkering, their recent Optica is significantly lighter-sounding than its predecessors.

On this installment of World Cafe, hear the group discuss how it navigated new musical experiments on the album, and how all of its members finally came to agree on how Optica should sound.

Jim James has spent his career singing big, booming songs that echo into the sky. With My Morning Jacket, he specializes in letting his gigantic voice ring out past the rafters in songs that boom and blare. But on his first solo album under his own name, this year's Regions of Light and Sound of God, James turns inward and recasts himself as a lost wanderer in search of redemption, salvation and comfort.

The Olms On World Cafe

Aug 8, 2013

Pete Yorn has long had a way with hooky rock songs, so it was easy for him to connect with fellow L.A. musician J.D. King over a mutual love for '60s music. The two first started recording together just for fun, blending folk-rock and subtle psychedelia into a joint project they call The Olms.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the heavily taped packages that can't be opened without the aid of a utility knife and a blowtorch is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This week: an array of tips for anyone hoping to launch and sustain a career in music journalism.

We forget to listen closer, look closer. As a big-picture kind of guy, I do that myself, and that means missing details that make day-to-day life more vivid. Listening to High Aura'd, it's apparent that creator John Kolodij hears life with great clarity. Last year's Sanguine Features was a personal favorite of mine: a dark and buzzing LP that, when turned up loud, felt like a dark hallway with treasures tucked away in the corners.

Vattnet Viskar's self-titled 2012 EP blazed through atmospheric, doom-ridden black metal with authority; it had promise for a style that's been mined endlessly in recent years.

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